May 2007


Humor29 May 2007 08:06 pm

Black Hairy TongueHow about the poor fellow suffering from black, hairy tongue disease?

This appears to be a very unattractive mess – no matter how much money you may have or which flavor religion suits your taste.

Mmmm, yummy! How about a nice ice cream cone… with black hair on top!

Back Hairy Tongue

 

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Media&Politics26 May 2007 09:50 am

Major General John Batiste

“Somebody Had to Speak Out. If Not Me, Who?” – Maj. Gen. John Batiste Fired by CBS News for Anti-Iraq War ‘Advocacy’ – From Democracy Now!

AMY GOODMAN: Can you talk specifically about that decision and, especially for young people to see how you, with your history in the military, your history going back to your father and your grandfather, what those days were like? Where were you when you made this decision?

MAJ. GEN. JOHN BATISTE: Tough decision. As you said, both grandfathers served. My father served multiple times, career infantry officer. Myself, a West Point graduate, thirty-one years in the military. Decision was made in my quarters in Germany in the summer of 2005.

You see, we got this war terribly wrong. I’m not antiwar at all. I don’t support MoveOn.org. That’s the reason I joined Vote Vets. This is all about getting it right. This is all about recognizing that it’s not about timelines and deadlines. It’s more about recognizing that this administration got the national strategy so wrong in Iraq, wrong in March 2003, wrong today in May 2007. This administration failed to mobilize this country in any way, shape or form to complete the important task of defeating worldwide Islamic extremism, global terrorism.

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CBS News is being accused of political censorship after it fired the retired U.S. general, John Batiste, from his position as a paid news consultant after he criticized President Bush’s Iraq war policy. The controversy began when the general appeared in a television commercial sponsored by the group VoteVets.org.

Colby Buzzell, a former U. S. Army machine gunner has won the Blooker Prize, awarded for the best book that began as a blog on the Internet. His book My War: Killing Time in Iraq began as a blog written during his time serving in Iraq. Colby Buzzell continues to blog at MY WAR and has spoken on the radio, recently on NPR’s Talk of the Nation and KQED’s Forum, a program about Memorial Day. He has returned to live with his parents in the San Francisco Bay Area and struggles to adapt and adjust back into civilian life. See also the SF Chronicle story about Colby Buzzell.

Hearing the words, wisdom and insights of those who have been there in combat and faced death while in service to their beloved country provides direct knowledge of war and its implications. These soldiers and those who fought with them deserve our respect and an extract measure of credit in balance for the extra steps they have walked in their boots.

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Movie TV DVD Review&Politics18 May 2007 07:30 am

Brain, optic nerve and EyechartHere are a few links to help us wake up from our collective amnesia and neglect. Matters such as global warming are not going to be swept under the rug, if the rug is under 6 feet of water.

A panel of 11 retired military officers released a report, National Security and the Threat of Climate Change, in conjunction with CNA Corp. The report is available on the CNA web site, http://securityandclimate.cna.org/report/.

CNA National Security and the Threat of Climate Change.This might seem like a new angle on the impending climate change problem, but let’s face reality. If catastrophic weather events such as hurricane Katrina happen again, thousands of people are suddenly displaced, and in effect need to invade neighboring safer territories. It’s a battle for survival on higher ground waiting to happen.

In typical counter intuitive fashion, the Bush Administration is pushing for weakening of global warming limits proposed for agreement at the G-8 summit meeting scheduled for June 6-8 in Germany. What’s wrong with these people?! GM, Ford and Chrysler are in a terrible business slump anyway, so easing gas emission standards isn’t going to help them. Their best bet for a business revival is for green innovation. Come on, wake up Detroit!

NPR in conjunction with Natioinal Geographic has a page full of climate change links, CLIMATE CONNECTIONS. And if that is not enough, check out the GREEN PARTY web site.

IFC Films logoThe Green Party link was stumbled upon in a list of links at An Unreasonable Man: A Documentary about Ralph Nader. This film, and many other fine and unusual movies, such as the current After The Wedding and Factotum, were produced by IFC Films which has an impressive and though provoking web site. Be sure to look at their link to Quality Blogs which connects to numerous film review and independent cinema web sites such as Cinematical and Filmbrain.

And to top off this thoughtful preparation, I received email from Michael Moore’s organization announcing the premiere at the Cannes Film Festival of his long awaited next documentary “Sicko“, over 3 years since the release of Fahrenheit 9/11. Moore has had to protect his film from possible confiscation by the U.S. Government after Bush’s Treasury Secretary, Henry Paulson, launched an investigation of a trip Moore took to Cuba to film scenes for the movie.

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Animation&Technology09 May 2007 08:08 am

SIGGRAPH 2007 logoI first attended a SIGGRAPH convention in 1983. The International Conference and Exhibition on Computer Graphics and Interactive Techniques was held in Detroit that year. I traveled with Tim Onosko, a technology writer from Madison, Wisconsin, to learn about pixels and how computers were able to help with the laborious process of animation.

Traditional cel animation had no inate ability to illustrate 3D geometry, only providing photographic 2 1/2 D depth through multiplaned layers of glass shot on the animation camera stand. In the 70’s I had worked on a few independent cel animated projects with Steven Lisberger in Boston, and we imagined that in the future perhaps computers would replace the drudgery of inking and painting acetate cels. I was shocked to see Steve had moved into 3D computer animation when he wrote and directed TRON, and I was determined to catch up on this innovation.

SIGGRAPH 1983 was a rush of excitement, a real eye opener. I attended a 2 day course presented by staff members of NYIT’s computer graphics lab; Fred Parke, Duane Palyka, and Lance Williams to name a few. They were writing their own software and systems to aid 2D painting, tweening and 3D animation. At small gatherings and parties I met some of the leading thinkers in new media at the time, such as Gene Youngblood whose book EXPANDED CINEMA had influenced me greatly in my earlier undergraduate film school studies.

There was a great sense of anticipation and invention. The software engineers and artists at SIGGRAPH 1983 knew they were staring at a wide open territory fresh for developing new frontiers in 3D animation, gaming and filmmaking. Back in those days, the animation industry itself was weak. MTV was just starting to spark new creative endeavors in music video production. Pixar, The Cartoon Network, Comedy Central, Ren and Stimpy, Beavis and Butthead, South Park – none of these had happened yet.

By 1984 I was working at NYIT Computer Graphics Lab as a 2D compositor, experimenting with animating a 3D Gumby model which appeared as part of the SIGGRAPH 1984 Electronic Theater. In 1985 and 86 I was NYIT’s post production director for their SIGGRAPH show reels.

The upward momentum of computer graphics and animation in those days was even more intoxicating than the great Internet ramp up and bubble in the late 90’s. Yet today, you can’t escape the influence of computer graphics. Animated pixels and visual effects are part of almost every motion picture, television show and certainly every computer monitor. I would argue that today there is as much or more artwork generated by computer artists than by traditional painters and sculptors.

SIGGRAPH has lost that magical luster of cultish wizardry for me. It’s a routine convention machine now, carefully connecting large educational institutions with large corporations and influencial Hollywood studios. Also, in the past, employers were more willing to help pay your way to a special conference such as the SIGGRAPH that once was. Now the corporations are tighter, and travel expenses to just another convention are often seen as an obstacle. Although the mystical secret genie of SIGGRAPH was out of the bottle over 10 years ago, if I were paid to cover SIGGRAPH I’d go and know what to look for.

SIGGRAPH will still be full of great technical papers, panels taught by smart guys looking to have some of their costs covered, and more student animation than you will have time to sit through. So for me it’s more of the same, mostly redundant stuff, and not the excitement of riding a remote new wave with a small band of pioneers that it used to be.

As the Donald Fagen song The Goodbye Look goes…

The rules are changed, it’s not the same
It’s all new players in a whole new ball game.

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